ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Dalai Lama told the Minnesota Legislature on Wednesday that human intelligence has created many of the world's problems, but it also holds the solution.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader said all religions share "basic human values" such as love, compassion and honesty, so people of all traditions can work together to develop "genuine harmony." Contributing to that, he said, is his belief that human nature is more compassionate than aggressive.
"I think the future of humanity is a concern for everybody, because this is our only home," the Dalai Lama said in the 25-minute speech. "So therefore every human being has the responsibility to take care of our home, our world, our planet, and the future of humanity."
He also expressed optimism about the future of human rights in Tibet. He said the best way to solve the problem is through dialogue with the Chinese, leading to autonomy, not independence. He said Tibet's future government should be secular and democratic.
Security was tight in the House chamber for his speech. More than a dozen security officers and a bomb-sniffing dog combed the chamber, examining each desk. The floor was packed with folding chairs to accommodate members of the Senate and guests of lawmakers. Members of the local Tibetan community watched from the gallery.
Lawmakers said they were honored by his presence. Sen. Randy Kelly, a St. Paul Democrat, said he was happy he made eye contact as the Dalai Lama entered and bowed slightly toward Kelly and others with his hands clasped in prayer.
"It's good for Minnesota, good for America to better understand the plight of the Tibetan nation and their people," he said.
House Speaker Steve Sviggum, a Republican from Kenyon, described the Dalai Lama as "the most honorable person in the entire world from the standpoint of hope and compassion and justice."
The speech followed an address Tuesday evening, where about 9,000 -- from local Tibetans to Catholic priests to armchair philosophers -- flocked to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, searching for nuggets of wisdom from the Dalai Lama.
To many in the crowd, he delivered.
"After hearing him speak, you want to go borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor," said June Sherren of St. Paul. "You want to go visit your favorite uncle."
In his speech at Williams Arena, the Dalai Lama never mentioned China -- which has occupied Tibet since 1959 -- sticking mostly to his ideas about compassion and inner peace. But the evening wasn't devoid of politics.
U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, in his introduction, rallied the crowd with one of his favorite topics -- human rights -- and called on Chinese leaders to meet with the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama was scheduled to have a private meeting Wednesday with Gov. Jesse Ventura, who is planning a trade mission to China in November. Ventura met with Chinese officials on Monday to discuss the trip but said the subject of the Dalai Lama did not come up.
"Just to say hello," is how the Dalai Lama characterized the purpose of the meeting.
China discourages foreign leaders from meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying such meetings give him a platform for promoting Tibetan independence. The United States formally recognizes Tibet as part of China.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area has the second-largest Tibetan Buddhist population in the United States, numbering about 1,000. New York has the largest Tibetan community.
On the Net:
Site maintained by Office of Tibet in London and the government-in-exile http://www.dalailama.com
Site on Dalai Lama's visit to Minnesota http://www.dalailamaminnesota.org
Official Tibetan government-in-exile site http://www.tibet.com
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